BREWER, Maine — The region’s first medical marijuana dispensary may soon open in town, just down the street from CancerCare of Maine, City Planner Linda Johns told city councilors on Tuesday.
“They have a lease in place and have submitted a site plan application,” she said.
Northeast Patients Group, a nonprofit organization formed to operate half of the state’s eight medical marijuana dispensaries, filed the site plan for 221 Dirigo Drive on Monday, Johns said after the meeting.
“It would be one of the tenants in that building,” she said.
The site is located on Dirigo Drive at the end of Sparks Avenue.
“They are not proposing any external changes,” Johns said. “They did say it would just be a dispensary, but on the floor plan they did identify an area for cultivation.”
Clarification about exactly what Northeast Patients Group wants to do with the site will be made before the proposal is presented to the planning board, which may occur at their January meeting, she said.
The group first approached Brewer in June 2010, which was before it gained approval from the Maine Department of Health and Human Services to run four clinics in or around Augusta, Bangor, Portland and Thomaston.
Northeast Patients Group, which submitted its financial plans to the state in August, already has launched its marijuana growing operation in Thomaston and plans to supply all four of its clinics from that facility.
Representatives from Northeast Patients Group have talked with community leaders in Hermon and Bangor over the last two years.
Maine voters first approved the use of medical marijuana in 1999 and a decade later expanded the law to include more medical conditions and allow medical marijuana patients or their caregivers to legally buy marijuana from nonprofit, government-sanctioned dispensaries.
Maine already has three open licensed medical marijuana dispensaries in Ellsworth, Biddeford and Auburn.
To assist patients with consuming the medicinal pot, it will be offered in a variety of different forms, the Northeast Patients Group website states.
“We will provide cannabis in a variety of strains, and in a number of preparations, including smokeable marijuana, cannabis butters, tinctures, baked goods and lozenges,” it states. “This range of choices will allow patients to choose which methods work best for them. We will also offer a variety of tools and accessories to help you take your medicine.”
During Brewer’s council meeting, the board also amended the land use ordinance concerning consuming medical marijuana at registered dispensaries, which was originally banned, to now allow employees to assist patients with use of the prescribed medicine.
“Any such use of medical marijuana must not be visible from the street or from the outside of the building,” the new rule states.
Posters or other educational materials about the dangers of driving while medicated or which discourage driving while medicated also must be available, the amended city code states.
Correction: An early version of this story requires correction. Quoting the Northeast Patients Group website, the story referred to a requirement that patients register with the state. A spokesman for Northeast Patients Group said Wednesday that the website contained outdated information. Maine has revised its rules and patient registration is now optional, the spokesman noted, adding that Northeast Patients Group is revising its website to reflect the change.